**This blog entry orginally appeared on the website oceanspaces.org.**/p>
The North Coast MPA Baseline Program subtidal monitoring project has been extraordinary, using SCUBA to go places very few (if any) have been diving before. The observation I have enjoyed most was a day in September where we made the long run from Noyo Harbor to the Double Cone SMCA.
It was a foggy boat ride until we got to Rockport Bay, where the sunlight burned though the fog and shone down on us. We arrived in the conservation area and dropped down upon a pinnacle that rose up from the 65 foot base and came within 15 feet of the surface. As I prepared to descend from the top of the pinnacle, I found myself face to face with an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) and over 200 blue and black rockfish. When I reached 60 feet, and started to lay the benthic swath, I noticed vermillion rockfish surrounding me and a large lingcod lying on an overlooking ledge. It was one of the greatest dives I have ever had and the highlight of my experience on this project so far.
I hope you enjoy this video that I took over the last year!
The North Coast MPA Baseline Program is composed of 11 projects and over 30 organizations collaborating to monitor a wide variety of habitats, build an understanding of human dimensions, and bring traditional knowledge to bear on ecosystem health. Visit the North Coast region page to learn more, and join the North Coast Monitoring Community to stay informed of activities in this region.